I watched a video today of the best of a workshop that Rob gave last year on close range tactics from the perspective of the Systema that he practices and teaches in the UK. I was reminded while doing so that we live in an audio-visual age which might well have made the founder of the Yang style Taijiquan, Yang Lu Chan, green with envy. For those who don't know the story, he was reputed to have learned the basics of his art by watching Chen-style practitioners practising while he hid behind a stone wall and watched them training night-after-night. What would he have thought of the modern opportunity to attend workshops, buy dvds, stream instructional videos or "shop around' at a variety of martial arts that teach openly to anyone?
I felt a little bit like I was "stealing secrets" myself while watching Rob and his students training on my monitor screen. Perhaps I'm only fooling myself as to the depth of my understanding of martial body mechanics but I saw much that I recognized and liked. I also saw much that was done differently or explained in ways that made more sense to me than the kinds of explanations I have used with my own students over the years for similar methods of standing and moving while delivering and receiving "discomfort"
My first article on the martial arts was published in a Canadian periodical [RCMP Gazette] in 1979 and a year later my first article on taijiquan was published in an American martial arts magazine [see above]. About 160 published articles, five books and more than a hundred blog posts later, I had made a little money in the early years as a writer and the work of writing has also helped me sort out how I felt on a variety of martial and taiji topics over the years.
More importantly, I was sometimes told by readers that my articles had been helpful to them and that was more satisfying than the cheques that I received. We won't talk about the occasional comment that I was clueless about the topic that had offended that particular reader!
After all those years of writing on taijiquan and the martial arts the impulse to do so seemed gone in the late Spring of 2017 when I closed the blog that had run for almost a decade on my old website. But it's hard to silence an aging writer and so... to quote that famous line by Jack Nicholson in the cinematic version of The Shining "I'm Back!"
More About Me
I graduated from university in the early 1970s and went on to work in a variety of fields (archaeology, Federal Government civil service and IBM Ottawa) before becoming a magazine editor with the RCMP for a decade. From 1985-1996, I was the main caregiver for my two sons while also working as a free-lance writer and teaching Chinese martial arts in the evenings.